Safari Club International lobbyist to head U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2005:

WASHINGTON D.C.–U.S. Interior Secretary Gail Norton on March
17 appointed former Safari Club International chief lobbyist Matthew
J. Hogan to be acting director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service,
succeeding Steve Williams, who resigned a week earlier.
Williams resigned hours after formally admitting that the
Fish & Wildlife Service used incomplete and misleading data on
Florida panther movements in assessing several high profile land use
applications. Most involved projects favored by Florida Governor Jeb
Bush, younger brother of President George W. Bush.
“Dan Ashe, the service’s top science adviser and a member of
the review panel, said the agency relied too much on data collected
only in late morning hours to establish the panthers’ home range.
Panthers are most active at dawn and dusk,” explained John Heilprin
of Associated Press.
“The agency announced it would revise documents that
understated the panther’s habitat and painted an over-optimistic
picture of its prospects,” added Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel staff
writer David Fleshler. “The review [of panther research] came after
an agency biologist, Andrew Eller, filed a petition last May under
the federal Data Quality Act accusing the agency of knowingly using
flawed data to rubber-stamp eight construction projects in panther
habitat.”

Eller was fired, purportedly for missing deadlines, in November 2004.
The Hogan appointment signaled that White House wise-users
were anything but chastened. Both George W. Bush and his father,
former President George H. Bush, are life members of Safari Club
International, while Jeb Bush has consistently favored Safari Club
political positions.
“SCI has made a name for itself as one of the most extreme
and elite trophy hunting organizations, representing some 40,000
wealthy trophy collectors, fostering and promoting competitive
trophy hunting on five continents,” responded the Humane Society of
the U.S. “SCI members shoot prescribed lists of animals to win
so-called Grand Slam and Inner Circle titles. To complete all 29
award categories, a hunter must kill a minimum of 322 separate
species and subspecies–enough to populate a large zoo. “
Because completing some of the most elite lists involves
killing animals who are listed as endangered or threatened, HSUS
continued, “SCI members have even tried to circumvent federal laws
to import their trophies. Prominent SCI hunter Kenneth E. Behring,”
for example, “donated $100 million to the Smithsonian Institution
and according to published reports, tried to get the museum’s help
in importing a rare Kara Tau argali sheep which he shot in Kazakhstan
and had shipped to a Canadian taxidermist–one of only 100 Kara Tau
argali sheep left in the world. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service,
now under Hogan’s watch, is the agency charged with granting or
denying trophy import permits.”
In a similar case, involving feathered artifacts, San
Francisco Chronicle reporter Eric Rosenberg disclosed on February 17,
2005 that, “More than a year after he was convicted of violating
endangered species laws, Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lawrence
M. Small is still negotiating with the Justice Department over
exactly what kind of ‘community service’ he must perform as part of
his sentence. The Smithsonian’s chief executive wants to use the
100-hour punishment to lobby Congress to change the ‘outmoded’ laws
he violated.”
Federal investigators found that Small’s 1,000-piece artifact
collection “held at least 219 items containing feathers protected
under the Endangered Species Act, the Convention on Intentional
Trade in Endangered Species, and/or the Migratory Bird Treaty Act,”
Rosenberg wrote.
“Small was sentenced to two years’ probation and community
service, and was ordered to apologize in newspapers and the National
Geographic,” but Smithsonian spokesperson Linda St. Thomas said none
of the publications printed the apology.
As well as using museum collection permits as cover for
importing hunting trophies, which may then remain with the hunters
on “loan,” hunters often claim income tax deductions for “donations”
of trophies to museums at inflated values.
“One of the more active appraisers is Robert Bruce Duncan,
founder of the Chicago Appraisers Association,” Washington Post
staff writer Marc Kaufman disclosed on April 5, 2005, as U.S.
Senate finance committee chair Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) convened
a hearing on trophy imports and tax fraud.
“Duncan was sentenced to 10 months in prison and fined
$47,000 in 1991 for helping to place mounts of illegally hunted
endangered animals in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences,”
recounted Kaufman. “His Chicago Appraisers brochure explains how to
‘Hunt for Free.’ It goes on to say, ‘If you write and tell us where
you are going, we’ll suggest what extra animals to take and donate
for tax savings. We’ll then send you a written guarantee that we
have a museum to accept them upon your return.”
As many as 800 trophy pelts and mounts per year have been
donated to the Wyobraska Wildlife Museum, in Gering, Nebraska,
which auctions most of them off.
“Records show that in 2000, Wyobraska took in mounts worth
$1.4 million,” Kaufman wrote. “In 2004, museum curator Mike Boone
said, the value of donations grew to more than $5 million, even
though display rooms and storage containers were already overflowing.”
Boone admitted to undercover investigators from the Humane
Society of the U.S. that “most people donate for the tax write-off,”
Kaufman reported.
Wyobraska in 2003 sold mounts with an appraised value of $4.2 million
for about $67,000, according to IRS Form 990.
Counter to the Bush administration linkage of conservation
with trophy hunting and collecting, and tax write-offs for the
rich, Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski in January announced
that accredited ambassadors would no longer be invited to shoot boar,
deer, wolves, and bears in the Matka forest.
Instead, they are asked now to plant symbolic trees, herbs,
or flowers in a newly created Park of Tolerance in Skopje, the
national capital.
The idea was quickly endorsed by Donato Chiarini, the
European Commission chief delegate to Macedonia.

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